Google's mandatory integration of YouTube and Google+ has caused some confusion and frustration for YouTube creators or channel owners, particularly those who have had their YouTube channel suspended or some features disabled due their Google+ Profile page also being suspended. It's a complicated issue, but we have a fix for you.
Some companies, organizations and YouTubers have recently found that part of their YouTube channel's functionality has been suspended due to something called the "Google+ names policy." You may have discovered this suspension by clicking to reply to a comment on one of your videos, and gotten this message in red:
"Before you can comment: To comment on this page, you need to connect your channel with Google+. However your channel has a Google+ profile that has been suspended. We suggest that you visit Google+ to better understand why your profile has been suspended, and see if you can address the problem."
Then, when you visit your Google+ profile, you find this text in red at the top of the page:
"Your profile was suspended because it violates our names policy: Take action."
This is a very long tutorial post and as such, we've outlined the major sections so that you can jump forward if desired:
- The Problem: Understanding Google+ Names Policy & YouTube
- How to Fix the Suspended issue (Tutorial)
- How to Appeal to Remove Suspension
THE PROBLEM: Google Plus "Names Policy" & YouTube Channels
Essentially, the Google Plus "names policy" states that all Google Plus PROFILES need to have the name of a real, individual person. Google Plus PAGES are for representing companies, groups, brands and organizations. Google Plus PAGES are also for representing YouTube channels that don't use the name of a single individual, or need to be administered by more than one person. This YouTube support article breaks it down: "Differences between Google Plus PROFILES and PAGES."
The names policy violation likely happened even if you didn't make any changes to your Google+ identity. In fact, it may have happened even if you never knew that had a Google+ account at all.
Actually, your Google Plus PROFILE may have been suspended for some time, but it has only taken on greater importance after the mandatory integration of Google Plus and YouTube.
Why Should You Fix it?
While Google doesn't offer figures on this, it's likely that many companies, organizations and channels have had this happen since the mandatory integration of Google Plus and YouTube on Nov. 7, 2013. Since Google Plus and YouTube are now permanently connected, a Google Plus suspension creates significant problems for the connected YouTube account.
Specifically, the YouTube “Google+ deletion or suspension” help page says that if your profile is deleted or suspended, your channel will be disabled, your comments and messages will be permanently deleted, and that your channel name, your videos, your playlists, and your subscribers will be made private (unable to be viewed by the world). In reality, the videos still can be viewed, at least initially.
But there's not doubt this is an important problem for you to solve - and solve as soon as possible. Because if your Google Plus PROFILE is suspended, your YouTube account is partially suspended, too.
So how do you fix it?
How to Fix a Suspended Google Plus & YouTube Channel
[NOTE: I've capitalized the words PROFILE and PAGE for emphasis, as the terms are similar and easily confused when talking about Google Plus. For this article we will use a fictional YouTube account "companyxmarketing," and a Google Plus identity of "Company X."]
PART ONE: The Google Plus Steps
Step 1: Understand How this Became a Problem
A few years ago, YouTube started making it mandatory to have a Gmail account attached to all YouTube accounts. Some companies and channels with more than one manager set up group email addresses to manage their YouTube accounts, such as CompanyXMarketing@gmail.com. Then, later, each Gmail account was encouraged, and subsequently required, to have a Google Plus PROFILE.
And on November 7, 2013, Google made it mandatory to have a functioning and rule-abiding Google Plus PROFILE or Google Plus PAGE attached to each YouTube account. In fact, the Google Plus PROFILE or PAGE has become the “owner” of the given YouTube account.
Actually, Google Plus began informing accounts in advance of the November integration about the non-conforming PROFILES that violated their names policy. Later, Google began suspending the non-conforming Google Plus PROFILES. But many YouTube channel owners didn't notice, or didn't care, because they didn't use Google Plus. After the mandatory integration, however, some companies found their YouTube channels partially or fully disabled due to Google Plus, with an unclear route to properly resolving the problem if their accounts were attached to group email addresses.
Step 2: Disregard your First Instinct
Your first instinct to come up with a quick solution may be to ask yourself this question: "Hmmm, I don't really use Google Plus, so can I just delete my Google Plus PROFILE?"
Answer: No, you cannot. For emphasis, let me add: NO, NO, NO! It's a terrible mistake to attempt this. The truth is, you can never delete your Google Plus PROFILE without first deleting your YouTube account. And you don’t want that, because once you delete a YouTube account, you’ll NEVER get it back. Nor will you get your custom URL back either - the URL goes out of commission permanently for all of YouTube.
So you need to just accept that Google Plus will be connected in some way to your YouTube channel.
Step 3: Tell your Co-Workers to Stay Off the Account
When your Google Plus PROFILE, and thus your YouTube account, is in a suspended state, you (or others who use the same YouTube account) will be constantly prompted to resolve the problem each time you log in. However if you share this YouTube login with others, you run the risk of someone other than you creating an accidental, permanent problem, such as attaching their own personal name to your company's YouTube account.
Ask your team members to please stay logged-out of the joint YouTube account until you are finished fixing it.
Step 4: The Main Part - Assign the Google+ PROFILE a Real Person
So by now you realize that you need to assign the Google Plus PROFILE to someone, but whom? What if everyone in your company or group already has a Google Plus PROFILE? Can someone have two or more Google Plus PROFILES?
Yes! Yes you can.
While it breaks the YouTube/Google Plus Terms of Service to have a Google Plus PROFILE that is not an individual person (but rather a business or a group or organization), it’s perfectly acceptable, and in some cases essentially required, to have a Google Plus PROFILE with a name that is actually not used by the person that has that name, and, in fact, doesn’t really represent them in any way other than in name.
And it's OK, and in fact expected, that on Google Plus you have multiple identities or profiles. This is due to the fact that some people have multiple Gmail accounts, and thus they may have multiple Google Plus accounts. In this way Google Plus operates differently than Facebook, where individuals are only allowed one personal account.
Google Plus offers guidance on how to maintain multiple identities, but it's best to just use one primary identity and keep the others out of Google's search engine (the others will still be public, but somewhat hidden).
So, whose name should be publicly attached to the Google Plus PROFILE connected to an email like CompanyXMarketing@gmail.com? Answer: Use your boss' name or client's name if relevant. Or if you own the YouTube channel, use your name.
Below are my recommendations for the suspended Google Plus PROFILE as relating to connected YouTube accounts (and here's what Google recommends, but I recommend the process below):
To properly de-suspend/re-activate your YouTube channel you need to reactivate your Google Plus PROFILE by going to https://plus.google.com and clicking on the "Take action" box in the red message at the top of the page.
You will then have three choices:
- Provide information about your name
[This] is my common name, and this is my personal Google+ profile.
- Update your profile name
[This] is not my common name, and this is my personal Google+ profile.
- Create a Google+ Page
[This] is the name of my business brand, organization, or YouTube channel.
I recommend that if you don't have a Google Plus PAGE, select the third option - "Create a Google+ PAGE."
And then, even though it's not what you selected, you will then be asked to fill out the name change of your profile. This is where it says, "Change your name, then create a Google+ Page."
This is where you enter your boss' name. It also says "Your name is visible to anyone on the web. Changing your name here will change it in all Google products." It also links to this info about how your profile, and the name of your account, will be changed permanently on Google products (but doesn't spell out how the changes relate to YouTube).
Then you need to enter someone's name that is connected with the group email you're using. When the form asks for a name of a person to be attached to this Google Plus PROFILE, we recommend entering the first and last name of your boss or client. Of course, let your boss know you’re going to do this first, as it will create a public identity on Google Plus with their name on it. And this identity can never be changed or deleted. For this example we'll say that your boss's name is "Jane Smith." But use her real name.
Then you will see a button, which says: "Submit name then create a Google+ page." This is the point of no return.
Then you'll get another popup, which says: "Submit this name for review? Our team will review this name to ensure it complies with the Google+ Names Policy. If this name is approved, you won’t be able to change your profile name again for up to three months. If this name isn’t approved, your Google+ profile will remain suspended and you can submit another name or submit an appeal." Submit this, too.
Now, even though you selected that you wanted to create a Google Plus PAGE, you still can't, because your PROFILE is still suspended. You're in an in-between step in the approval process, waiting for Google Plus to approve your name change. You are forwarded to a page where you get a link for more info about PROFILE suspensions. At this point, neither your YouTube channel nor your Google Plus PROFILE have been re-instated, but you have done everything you can. In this state, you CAN manage Google Plus PAGES of which you are a manager or owner.
Step 5: Wait to be Approved
Now you need to wait until your Google Plus PROFILE is re-activated. You won't receive an email to this effect or see any "re-instated" emails. Rather, you will simply no longer see the red "names policy violation" box at the top of your Google Plus PROFILE. Google says it can take up to 48 hours for your re-activation and accounts to be working again, but it will probably take less than 24 hours.
Step 6: Hide Your Profile as Much as Possible
After you've fixed this profile, hide it from Google's search engine. Since it's not a "real" profile, but just a placeholder, you don't want people contacting this profile thinking it's your boss. Rather, your boss should have a separate Google Plus PROFILE that they manage personally. And be careful not to follow or circle other Google Plus PROFILES using this PROFILE, as it will not be hidden and they will follow back and confuse people as to which identity is which.
Step 7: Actually, Forget about Setting up a Google Plus PAGE
Even though we told you to click on the Google Plus PAGE, you can actually forget about it for now. While it was the right button to click, we're actually going to set that up from YouTube rather than Google Plus.
PART II: The YouTube Steps
Step 1a: If the PROFILE isn't yet connected, connect with a Google+ PAGE
The next day after you've resolved your Google Plus PROFILE issues, go back to your YouTube channel and log in the old way that you've been using all this time. Then go to the YouTube Advanced Settings. Then click on "Connect with a Google+ PAGE" and go to Step 2 below (skip Step 1b).
Step 1b: If the PROFILE is connected, disconnect it from the PROFILE
If your YouTube channel is already connected to the Google Plus PROFILE, you must first disconnect it to connect it to a PAGE. You'll know if it's connected because on that same YouTube Advanced Settings page, it will not have an option to connect to Google PLUS, but will instead you'll have the option to click on a link that says, "Return name to X and disconnect Google+ profile." That's what you need to click on.
Then you'll get another confirmation message that says this action will delete your Google+ PROFILE. But this is wrong, it will not. Just click OK anyway.
You will only be able to connect to a Google Plus PAGE after disconnecting from your PROFILE. A YouTube channel cannot belong to both a Google Plus PAGE and PROFILE at the same time. Note that after you have disconnected the PROFILE and haven't yet connected the page, you'll temporarily be back in a partially YouTube-suspended state, and won't be able to comment on your own videos.
Then go back to the YouTube Advanced Settings. Then click on "Connect with a Google+ PAGE."
Step 2: Select or Create Google+ PAGE to "Own" the YouTube Channel
You'll then get a popup which says, "YouTube is updating your channel. Choose a name for your updated channel." You'll be given the choice of:
- An existing Google Plus PAGE you already own or manage.
- Your old YouTube username (which, again, will leave you with a suspended account).
- Choose a better name
And you'll see another link to "Learn more about your options," which just takes you to info we've seen before about PROFILES vs. PAGES.
If you already manage a relevant Google Plus PAGE (in this case, for Company X), and that PAGE not yet have a YouTube account hooked to it, it will be visible now. Select that PAGE, and your YouTube account and Google Plus PAGE will be connected. Great!
If you don't yet have a Google Plus PAGE, then click "Choose a better name," and then you'll be able to enter the name of the Google Plus PAGE you want to create and connect to this YouTube channel.
Then just enter the name you want to use. Congratulations, you've done it!
This overall process is now complete. On your YouTube channel you will see this default Google Plus PAGE icon, which you can change later:
You are now compliant with the Google Plus "names policy" with your Google Plus PROFILE, and you have properly connected the YouTube channel to either your new or your already-established Google Plus PAGE, which will now "own" your YouTube channel. Additionally, your Google Plus PROFILE is the "owner" of the Google Plus PAGE. And now you can add multiple managers (including, if needed, your other personal PROFILES or Gmail accounts) to the Google Plus PAGE. This give the managers the ability to manage your YouTube account -- performing actions such as uploading videos, responding to comments, making playlists, etc. -- without seeing your emails or being able to delete the YouTube account itself.
Step 3: What if none of this applies to me - how do I appeal?
NOTE: If you feel your YouTube-connected Google Plus PROFILE has been suspended unfairly, you can appeal by following this process. Also, there's a specific YouTube/Google Plus contact form for those who are super-confused and for which there doesn't seem to be another solution.
Step 4: What if this didn't work?
What if this process didn't work for you? What if you already had an established Google Plus PAGE, but somehow you couldn't connect it to your YouTube channel? And, what if instead you inadvertently set up an additional second Google Plus PAGE that has no followers. Then what do you do?
PART III: Fix Problems Connecting Google+ PAGE to YouTube
If you're like a number of YouTube channels, even though you may have gotten back in good standing with YouTube, there may be an additional problem connecting your accounts as described below.
You may be in this category if:
- At the time your channel was suspended, you already had an established Google Plus PAGE with followers, and
- When you de-suspended their Google Plus PROFILE and YouTube channel, you were not offered the opportunity to connect to your established Google Plus PAGE. It was not being offered as a selection by YouTube-Google+ "pairing" system, even though you are an "owner" or "manager" of the Google Plus PAGE, and
- You created a new Google Plus PAGE that has no followers, and
- Now you've got two Google Plus PAGES, and you still can't connect the old, established Google Plus PAGE, and
- The established Google Plus PAGE now has an empty YouTube channel.
Here's how you connect your established YouTube channel to your established Google Plus PAGE.
Step 1: Begin by distinguishing the icons
Your problem is that you now actually have three Google Plus identities: one PROFILE and two PAGES. But you only want on PROFILE and one PAGE. But what if you have the same icon (PROFILE photo) representing all three? It can be difficult to distinguish which one is which. So I recommend distinguishing them by uploading different photos for each. It doesn't matter what the images are, just that you know that one is for the PROFILE, one is for the established PAGE (that you want to connect to YouTube), and one is for the new PAGE (that you don't want connected to YouTube). Here's how to do this:
a) Upload a unique PROFILE photo to your PROFILE (here's how).
b) Upload a unique PROFILE photo to your new PAGE (following same process). If it has the default page icon (a dark blue square inside a light blue square), that's fine.
c) Keep the established PAGE photo the same with your official logo.
Step 2: Disconnect the main YouTube channel from Google Plus
a.) Sign in on YouTube the old way via YouTube.com. A "channel picker" will pop up showing three options of connecting:
- The new channel owners "name." This is the new name you created in order to get out of names-policy violation. This will have an email associated with it, such as "companyXmarketing@gmail.com."
- "Company X" (with a default Google Plus PAGE icon that looks like a blue box, or a new unique version you've uploaded), and
- "Company X" (with the real Google Plus Page's icon).
b.) Select "Company X" (the new PAGE) and click OK. This is the real YouTube channel (that is still connected to the empty Google Plus PAGE).
c.) Go to YouTube settings (http://YouTube.com/account) and go under Overview->Account Information->Name. Click on "Temporarily disconnect Google+ page, and use your YouTube username."
d.) On the next page "Disconnect your channel from your Google+ page", click OK. It also says: "Your channel name will revert to 'companyxmarketing.' All activity on the Company X channel will remain unchanged."
e.) Follow the steps to disconnect the channel from the empty page.
f.) You will come to a page that says: "Disconnect your channel from your Google+ page Your channel has been disconnected from Google+. Your Google+ page is still available. Optional - Provide feedback to make YouTube better." Click "Continue."
g.) Sign out of YouTube and Google Plus and Gmail.
h.) At this point, the channel should once again be disconnected from Google Plus.
Step 2: Delete Empty YouTube Channel on Established Google Plus PAGE
[DANGER: Proceed with caution. Make sure you delete the empty YouTube account, not the real YouTube account. This is an unrecoverable change if you make an error]
a.) Again, sign in on YouTube the old way (via YouTube.com). Click once on the icon in the top right, and the YouTube dropdown menu will appear. Then click once on "Switch account." Select the option "Company X" (with your real company icon). This is the empty YouTube channel that is connected to the real Google+ PAGE. Now you are acting as the manager/owner of the Google+ PAGE.
b.) Click on Video Manager (http://www.youtube.com/my_videos?o=U) to be ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN this is the channel that has no videos.
c.) Are you ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN there are no videos at http://www.youtube.com/my_videos?o=U? OK, then go to YouTube advanced settings (https://www.youtube.com/account_advanced). If you've followed the instructions correctly, you will only be deleting a blank YouTube channel that is connected to a Google Plus PAGE. You will not be deleting your primary YouTube channel.
d.) Hold your breath and say a prayer, because this is a PERMANENT deletion. Click "Delete channel."
e.) Follow the steps to delete the empty channel from the page. This will include: re-signing in to your account (the "name" of the person on the account). You will get a double-check page that will say you have 0 videos, 0 playlists, etc. Also it says that your Google account won't be deleted.
f) Sign out of YouTube and Google Plus and Gmail.
g.) Now the real Google Plus PAGE doesn't have a YouTube channel associated with it, and it's free to link to the correct YouTube channel.
Step 3: Connect Established YouTube channel with Established Google Plus PAGE
a.) Again, sign in on YouTube the old way (via YouTube.com).
b.) A channel picker will pop up. This time choose "channelxmarketing" (all one word). This logs you in to the original YouTube account.
c.) Go to the YouTube Advanced Settings. Then click on "Connect with a Google+ PAGE."
d.) You will get a popup that says, "YouTube is updating your channel. Choose an existing Google Plus page or create a new one." Since the correct, established Google Plus PAGE is no longer connected to that empty YouTube channel, you will be able to select it from the list. Select "Channel X", which will appear with the correct icon.
e.) Done. Your established YouTube channel and your established Google Plus PAGE are now properly connected.
f.) NOTE: When you connect a Google Plus PAGE to a YouTube channel, that action becomes permanent after 14 days.
Step 4: Delete that Mistakenly-Created 2nd Google Plus PAGE (Optional)
[DANGER: Be sure that the icon of the PAGE you want to delete is showing in the top right corner at all times. Otherwise you may accidentally delete your entire YouTube channel and Google Plus PAGE, permanently!]
a.) Log in to your Google Plus PROFILE.
b.) Click on your icon in the top right of the page
c.) From the dropdown menu, select your incorrect, unused, duplicate Google Plus PAGE (NOT the established PAGE).
d.) Roll over "Profile" in the top left,
e.) From dropdown, click on Dashboard.
f.) On the right of the top navigation, click on Settings.
e.) At bottom of settings page, click "Delete."
f.) This should only delete the unused Google Plus PAGE. Be careful that the icon connected with the page you want to delete is always showing in the top right corner. Refresh the page to make sure and you will get a confirmation popup.
g.) Now this unused, mistaken Google Plus PAGE should be deleted permanently.
How Do I Appeal if None of This Works?
If you feel your YouTube-connected Google Plus PROFILE has been suspended unfairly, you can appeal by following this process. Also, there's a specific YouTube/Google Plus contact form for those who are super-confused and for which there doesn't seem to be another solution.